Consumers can get rebates to buy fuel-efficient cars
February 16. 2013 6:15AM
PLAINS TWP. – Wally Stolarcyk wasn’t in the market for a new car but he was trying to sell his 1990 Ford F-150 pickup truck. A federal program that went into effect Friday made him change his mind in both respects.
Wally Stolarcyk of Hanover Township stands between two vehicles at Coccia Ford Lincoln Mercury in Plains Township. To the right is his 1990 Ford F-150 and to his right, a 2009 Mercury Mariner. Thanks to a federal rebate program that encourages old gas guzzlers to be traded in for new fuel-efficient models, Stolarcyz is able to get the Mariner for a steal.
Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader
Known as Cash for Clunkers, the offer gives consumers rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 – depending on what they buy and trade – toward the purchase or lease of a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Stolarcyk, of Hanover Township, was hoping to get $2,000 for his truck that had racked up 114,000 miles of use. He had placed ads in newspapers but once he heard about the program he stopped taking offers and held out for an extra three months.
His wait paid off. He’ll give up his truck and trade in a 2007 Ford Edge. He’ll get $4,500 for his truck in the cash for clunkers deal and an additional $14,500 for the Edge as a trade-in and then about $3,000 in dealer rebates and offers at Coccia Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, where he also works. He’ll walk away with a 2009 Mercury Mariner, normally in the $29,000 range, for about $7,000. The deal is better than he could get using employee discounts or any other offers that had been on the table two months ago, Stolarcyk said.
“How can I pass that up?” he asked.
Local dealers are counting on that reaction to boost sales this summer.
Ken Wallace Jr., at Valley Chevrolet in Wilkes-Barre, said that even before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the rules and regulations his dealership and others began making deals using the promotion.
He said that with “only $1 billion” available “it’s going to go fast.”
“It’s not going to last as long as people think,” Wallace said. At, say, an average of $4,000 per clunker, that allows for only about 250,000 transactions. Even at current depressed sales levels, that’s less than half of one month’s nationwide new vehicle sales.
The goal of the legislation was to get poor fuel-efficiency vehicles off the road but a side effect is a boost in interest in new vehicles for car dealers who’ve been hurt by the recession.
“Anything that’s done to stimulate business is a good thing,” said Greg Stiles, general manager at Ken Pollock Chevrolet in Pittston Township. He said the dealership received “a lot of inquiries” well in advance of the program’s start. That was echoed by other dealers.
“There’s been a tremendous response,” said Joe Coccia. He predicted the $1 billion will be exhausted by the end of August. By the end of last week the dealership had a list of 20 buyers waiting to take advantage of the program, officially called the Car Allowance Rebate System or CARS.
“They’re sitting in the back with the people’s names on them,” Coccia said about the vehicles awaiting delivery.
Coccia is in a good position because not only do nearly all the Ford models qualify for the program, the on-lot stock has been maintained while other dealers scaled back as sales slowed.
Wallace said plenty of Chevrolets on his lot also qualify, including Cobalts, which average 25 miles per gallon combined city/highway.
“You can buy a Cobalt right now for $9,000 if you do Cash for Clunkers. How can you beat that deal? You don’t,” Wallace said.
CASH IN YOUR CLUNKER
To qualify for the CARS program, the trade-in car must be drivable, get less than 18 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving and must be a 1984 model or newer.
Drivers do not need to pre-register for the program, but they must have owned their car for the past year and have registration and insurance papers. To get the rebate, the new vehicle must cost less than $45,000 and if it’s a car, get at least 22 miles per gallon or 15 to 18 miles per gallon if it’s a truck or van. Domestic and foreign vehicles are eligible.
How much do you get?
• $3,500 for cars with at least a four MPG improvement and trucks with at least a two MPG improvement over the trade-in.
• $4,500 for cars with at least a 10 MPG improvement and trucks with at least a five MPG improvement.
For more info: Go to www.cars.gov or cashforclunkersfacts.com or call toll-free 1-866-227-7891.